Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bush's War Against the US Military... and common sense...

Generally, when I receive one of Russ Daggatt’s postings about the Administration, I clip a few tasty snippets to share here. But there’s so much good stuff that I plan to drop in whole chunks, only occasionally speaking up, in italics. (Oh, btw, the political lamp is definitely lit!)

The Administration.s War Against the US Military

Senator Chuck Hagel, a conservative Republican from Nebraska (but apparently a sincere one, rather than an inner member of the cabal), had this to say about the Iraq war recently:

“Calling conditions in Iraq "an absolute replay of Vietnam," (at last, the "V word!") Sen. Chuck Hagel said Friday that the Pentagon is making a mistake by beefing up American forces in Iraq.
U.S. soldiers have become "easy targets" in a country that has descended into "absolute anarchy," the Nebraska Republican and Vietnam combat veteran said in an interview with The [Omaha] World-Herald. He said that in the previous 48 hours, he had received three telephone calls from four-star generals who were "beside themselves" over the Pentagon's reversal of plans to bring tens of thousands of soldiers home this fall.

Instead, top Pentagon officials are suspending military rotations and adding troops in Iraq. The Pentagon has estimated that the buildup will increase the number of U.S. troops from about 130,000 to 135,000."That isn't going to do any good. It's going to have a worse effect," Hagel said.

"They're destroying the United States Army."

"He's absolutely right," Lawrence Korb, a former senior Defense Department official in the Reagan administration, said of the Vietnam comparison. "The signs are all around."

Korb, who works at a centrist think tank, also agreed with Hagel's view that the Pentagon's reversal of plans to reduce troops this year would hurt the Army in the long run. "Yes, they're ruining the all-volunteer Army," Korb said.
As if to reinforce the latter point, it was reported this week that more than two-thirds of active Army brigades and Army National Guard units are not ready for combat – an abysmal state of readiness:

“More than two-thirds of the Army National Guard's 34 brigades are not combat ready, mostly because of equipment shortages that will cost up to $21 billion to correct, the top National Guard general said Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum spoke to a group defense reporters after Army officials, analysts and members of Congress disclosed that two-thirds of the active Army's brigades are not ready for war. The budget won't allow the military to complete the personnel training and equipment repairs and replacement that must be done when units return home after deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan, they say.

The issue [or military combat readiness] gained political momentum [in 2000] when then-candidate George Bush, during his nominating convention, said the Clinton administration let the U.S. military might erode. Now, as the 2006 elections approach, Democrats are saying the Bush administration is shortchanging the military.”

To which I can only answer “At last!” But democrats who merely mention this as a talking point will not overcome what we physicists call the “barrier energy” for moderately conservative American voters to overcome their stereotypes and prejudices... believing that, however rotten Bush & co have been to the military, democrats would be worse.

Worse? how? What could be worse than hollowing out our military to levels of unreadiness below Pearl Harbor?

If democrats attacked this issue VIGOROUSLY... and added related topics like the neocons’ all-out war upon the professional intelligence community and Officer Corps... then they might really accomplish something in breaking up Karl Rove’s Big Tent conservative alliance.

As Russ Daggatt puts it:

Bush is destroying the Army. Despite spending more on the military than the rest of the world combined, Bush has so overstretched our military that there isn’t the budget for training personnel and replacing and repairing equipment being used up in Bush’s wars. What are his budget priorities? Cut the estate tax – while US troops are fighting and dying so that he can hand the Iraq mess over to his successor.

Alas, there is no justice. I have been saying this - almost alone - for three years. Want another example of my Cassandra Problem? Back in 2002, I was writing to everybody, hollering that we should at least CONSIDER bringing Iran into our own big tent, before attacking Saddam. At the time, Iranian students were marching and the country’s president was encouraging them. A peace offensive MIGHT have been enough to sway another crucial 10% away from supporting the Mullahs and toward a rapprochement with America. It seemed cheap and worth a try!

“Consider,” I begged. “We have three vowed enemies in that region... people who have sworn to destroy us. Saddam, the Iranian mullahs, and a certain roil house. What is the worst nightmare of all three? Answer: restored friendship between the Iranian and American people.”

A peace offensive (hey, Nixon went to China!) would be cheap and have almost no downside. (If it failed, we’d look great for having tried.) Alas. Shortly after I campaigned for this, Condi (brilliant lady) declared the Axis of Evil, started ineffectual saber rattling and drove the students back under the mullahs’ flag. Good move! When we could have struck a deal to topple Saddam together, in exchange for a more open Iran.

Now returning to Daggatt:

Deliberately Fostering the Shi’ite Jihad

And as well all now know, the big winner from Bush’s disaster has been Iran. Bush has eliminated Iran’s main rival, Saddam’s Iraq, and has installed a regime friendly to Iran.
As former diplomat Flynt Leverett wrote in the New York Times earlier this year:
“During its five years in office, the administration has turned away from every opportunity to put relations with Iran on a more positive trajectory. …
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, Tehran offered to help Washington overthrow the Taliban and establish a new political order in Afghanistan. But in his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush announced that Iran was part of an "axis of evil," thereby scuttling any possibility of leveraging tactical cooperation over Afghanistan into a strategic opening.

Daggatt continues:

In the spring of 2003, shortly before I left government, the Iranian Foreign Ministry sent Washington a detailed proposal for comprehensive negotiations to resolve bilateral differences. The document acknowledged that Iran would have to address concerns about its weapons programs and support for anti-Israeli terrorist organizations. It was presented as having support from all major players in Iran's power structure, including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A conversation I had shortly after leaving the government with a senior conservative Iranian official strongly suggested that this was the case. Unfortunately, the administration's response was to complain that the Swiss diplomats who passed the document from Tehran to Washington were out of line.

Having rejected the overtures of the Iranian government back when the “moderates” were in control, we helped bring about a much more hostile government in that country. (The US isn’t the only country that responds to security threats by electing radical religious militaristic nuts.)

There is much more, including citations from articles and politicians, but I'll just summarize here. Daggatt concludes:

I am an optimist by nature. But, unfortunately, with the Bush administration things can always get worse.

Well, there is one possibility. The democrats need an EXPENDABLE MODERATE FRONT-RUNNER. Someone who is willing to step up and voice ALL of these things, without fear of political repercussions, because she or he does not actually plan to be president! Such a person would draw fire while raining blows on BushCo for treacheries that have nothing to do with left or right, but that have to do with devastating undermining of America and the world.

But more on that idea, anon....


monkyboy said...

Sounds like he's describing Russ Feingold...he's got my vote and money in '08.

Stefan Jones said...

Hell freezes over, pigs fly; Film at Eleven:

Pat Robertson: I’m ‘A Convert’ On Global Warming, ‘It Is Getting Hotter’

Yesterday on the 700 Club, evangelical Pat Robertson declared himself “a convert” on global warming. Robertson said that he has “not been one who believed in global warming in the past.” But now, Robertson said, he believes “it is getting hotter and the ice caps are melting and there is a build up of carbon dioxide in the air.” Robertson implored, “we really need to do something on fossil fuels.”

Dang . . .

Mark said...

Actually, one of the strange dynamics right now is the fundamentalist crowd has always been responsive to the global warming arguments. People tend to believe things that fit their world view pretty easily; it takes far more evidence to convince someone of something that does not fit into their accepted narrative.

It turns out that humans destroying our world fits well into the fundamentalist narrative.

No Robertson himself is mostly bought and paid for by the Republican establishment, but he has to stay within his audiences expectations and narratives as well. Thus, he declares his change of mind.

Overall, a very good thing.

Tom Craver said...

For Iraq, the Democrats need a position other than "Stay the Course, reluctantly" - that's too near the Republican's position.

They can't do "Cut and Run" - the Republicans have already positioned that as cowardly - and it'd probably be stupid in terms of the disaster it'd be for Iraqis as well.

Also - the Democrats need to stake out a position that appeals to the military (and their families) to pull over some of the conservative and moderate voters.

My recommendation - US troops to pull out of all cities/towns, but stay in Iraq, ready to move in if the Iraqis can't hack it. Still provide training and material support - just outside the urban areas.

What does that accomplish? Well, we stop creating new terrorists/insurgents by killing civilians, for one thing. Iraqis will have less sympathy for insurgents blowing things up in the city - hopefully that'll mean a lower level of violence around civilians and against the police. And of course there'll be fewer body bags and missing limbs on our side - which also sets the Democrats up to complain about how silent the Republicans are on that point, without appearing callous (since they offer a better alternative). To the Iraqis (and US voters and hopefully the rest of the world) it's a clear step toward eventual full withdrawal.

Doug S. said...

Remember the "It can't possibly get any worse" rule of movie dialogue. Never say anything like "It can't possibly get any worse" because it always wil get worse almost immediately after you say it.

Yes, things could DEFINITELY be worse in the world today. For example, China could invade Taiwan, leaving the US with no good options at all.

Things can always get worse.

Tony Fisk said...

A group of evangelicals declared themselves for conservation and for putting the brakes on greenhouse emissions last year (see here).

Hagel and Robertsons' comments, coming as they do from the rear lines, are a welcome bit of support. Hagel, in particular, is not mincing his words. Like Petro Georgiou in Oz, he's putting a new spin on the term 'loyal' opposition.

Now, Is it *ME* that's getting paranoid, or has anyone else noticed that liberal/left wing parties have seemed singularly unable to make these connections publicly (in both the US and Australia). Is it because they have allowed themselves to be successfully outmaneuvered and shouted down by sticking to standard doctrine, or is there something a little more 'complicit' going on?
(For it's really more about 'up' vs 'down' than it is 'left' vs 'right', isn't it?)
(Probably just paranoia: needs a good airing...hence the post;-)

Mark said...

Tom, what you suggested is very similar to what Juan Cole recommended a year ago. Cole is a Middle East expert and blogger (here), who was very against the invasion but believed the troops were doing more to help than hurt (barely) and were the only thing preventing Iraq from entering a full fledged civil war. I'm not sure what is position is today (most of his posts are just more bad news from Iraq, not as interesting or useful as I'd like), but you reflect his past thought, at least.

Don Quijote said...

I don't know what your complaint is, this is what people voted for, not once but twice.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

There is your reward for standing up to the Neo-cons.

WSJ - Cole Fire

The Jewish Week- Middle East Wars Flare Up At Yale

Here is the likeliest outcome of this decade,
Whiskey Bar - The War Party

The dems may win the next election, but since they have no base, don't have any control over the mass media (The Corporate Propaganda Machines), and are unwilling to stand up and fight for anything, the Propaganda machine will drive the agenda.

Rob Perkins said...

Don, aren't there arguments and cases made that the people did *not* vote for a neocon presidency in a majority in either election, with allegations of judicial engineering in the first case, and outright fraud in Ohio in the second?

Not that I believe them, but there you are. I think it's interesting for you to claim that the media is not under the indirect control of the Democratic Party, since that's the claim of the leadership of the Republican Party and a good number of conservatives.

Not that I believe *that* either, but there you are.

Tangent said...

Speaking of wars, there's apparently a war of humorists vs. "traditional media" happening. The July 27th blog entry for Malakhim talks about the bruhaha going on because Stephen Colbert had the courage to call bullshit on Bush and the Media.

It's kind of interesting... we don't really hear much editorializing these days from the mainstream media. No one dares say "Bush is doing a lousy job" on the news, or at least not qualifying such statements. The Republicans are quick to brush the Media as being Liberal... but the truth is they aren't. They haven't been for a while. They've been slinking down the path of conservativism for some time now, and have lost their way.

What's needed is more people willing to stand up and call the Media on its bullshit, and insist that it do its job. No matter what they do, the news media will be considered liberal shills by the conservatives. So why continue to court the conservatives and instead strike out, telling the truth about the world and stop glossing it over with a coat of whitewash.

Of course, my own perceptions might be biased by my own disdain for the media... ;)

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Although one does see Dobbs and Cafferty on CNN engaging in quite a bit of editorializing; and Fox News is primarily editorializing...

Rob Perkins said...

Heh, that's a counterexample: CNN (our side) might have it's faults, but Fox News (*their side*) is much worse.

It really is a transcendent human tendency, isn't it?

David Brin said...

CNN is only "our side" by comparison to Fox. WHile the latter is a blatant mouthpiece for the re-imposition of human feudalism, the former is merely a normal deeply conservative outfit...

...and thus (like Se, Hagel) starting to get creeped out and embarrassed by things that can no longer be ignored or swept away. But lest we forget, CNN spent many years performing rationalizations and excuses for the inexcusable.

David Brin said...

Oh, while I'm at it. There are a couple of media items to announce.

1. Sunday night there is a show (pbs?) about "Science Fiction Prophets" that I think I may be on. Anyway, it seems interesting.

2. Monday morning 9am I will be on KUOW the National Public Radio affiliate in Seattle, re: transparency issues.

3. I assume you all know about the World Science Fiction Convention in Anaheim, August 24-27. But just in case. (I am the guest at the next one, in Yokohama!)


Stefan Jones said...



This confirms it; we've got a f%$#ing moron in charge:

In his new book, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created A War Without End, Galbraith, the son of the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith, claims that American leadership knew very little about the nature of Iraqi society and the problems it would face after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

A year after his “Axis of Evil” speech before the U.S. Congress, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, one of whom became postwar Iraq’s first representative to the United States. The three described what they thought would be the political situation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. During their conversation with the President, Galbraith claims, it became apparent to them that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites.

Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam--to which the President allegedly responded, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!”

Don Quijote said...

Not that I believe them, but there you are. I think it's interesting for you to claim that the media is not under the indirect control of the Democratic Party, since that's the claim of the leadership of the Republican Party and a good number of conservatives.

Not that I believe *that* either, but there you are.

Well, here is your liberal MSNBC, an arm of GE (large weapons manufacturor), at work.

Hardball: Well That's Awkward!

Commentary: The Surrender Of MSNBC

or we can check out how Clear Channel deals with Bush Critics

Dixie Chicks axed by Clear Channel

Clear Channel Rewrites Rules of Radio Broadcasting

Clear Channel has gone beyond just axing news. Many believe that the company fires anyone with political opinions other than their own such as Davey D, the host of a popular talk radio show on KMEL, a black-owned station in Oakland, California, that launched the careers of rappers like Tupac Shakur and MC Hammer.

In October 2001 when the United States was on the verge of launching its invasion of Afghanistan, Davey D broadcast an interview with Barbara Lee, the only member of the United States Congress to vote against the war.

KMEL, which had recently been bought by Clear Channel, heard about the show and promptly fired him. Meanwhile company executives sent a memo round to its stations at about the same time warning them not to play any peace songs such as John Lennon's "Imagine" or music by the band Rage Against the Machine.

On the other hand, Clear Channel has not been opposed to all forms of political organizing. In 2003 the company paid for pro-war rallies around the country to support the invasion of Iraq as well as for a 33,000-pound tractor to smash a collection of Dixie Chicks CDs, tapes and other paraphernalia, at an event in Louisiana, because the bands had the arrogance to protest against the war.

This is just some of the more egregious crap our liberal media has done in support of our fearless leader.

Mark said...

We used to have CNN, back when Mr. Jane Fonda owned it, but it has been quite a long time since that was the case.

Tony Fisk said...

It probably is all down to bureaucratic bungling, but...

Not content with 'losing' portions of the NASA mission statement, it would appear that the original tapes of the first lunar landing have gone AWOL as well!
What landing was that, daddy?

monkyboy said...

CNN is only "our side" by comparison to Fox. WHile the latter is a blatant mouthpiece for the re-imposition of human feudalism, the former is merely a normal deeply conservative outfit...

Fox News is just a tiny part of News Corp., which puts out a considerable amount of anti-fuedalist content, too.

In other words, they're just in it for the money.

I think what Dr. Brin sees as a conspiracy is just a bunch of people trying to maximize their profits...Adam Smith would no doubt approve of their efforts.

David Brin said...

Monkyboy, you have on occasion proved that you are a smart fellow who deserves to be here. And we need a resident cynic-leftist. But please, pause and ask yourself "do I have even a clue what I'm talking about?"

You appear to know next to nothing about Adam Smith. Or hat he taught. Or why he should be the newest icon of liberalism (as he was, in fact, the very FIRST icon of liberalism).

Dealing with that cognitive dissonance would upset too many of your stereotypes, for sure. As would any possibility that the profit motive can have a light and dark side. No. It must be entirely dark! The loony mania of the left.

A pity, since distinguishing between the light and dark side is essential right now. The dark side brought us cheating and collusion and feudalism in every known human culture that had metals and farms. Every one EXCEPT those that followed the market rules of Smith and his successors.

(And every single communist regime was feudalist, as well. Don't fool yourself.)

How ironic! As the moderate-modernist, I must see conspiracies and proto-feudalism to explain why Murdoch et al are cheating and conspiring against our freedoms. WHile monkyboy, blithely content to see all profit-seeking as naturally evil, pooh-poohs all this conspiracy talk. Just normal capitalism, nothing to get in a sweat about!

Zowee, the ironies abound.

*Again folks... 10pm Sunday "SCIFI prophets" and 9am Monday Seattle NPR (yours truly.)

monkyboy said...

Dr. Brin,

I'm just saying the same company that puts out Fox News has also produced The Day After Tomorrow, Thank You for Smoking, Family Guy and even Medline Albright's recent book knocking Bushie...hardly propaganda for the lumpen revolution you fear.

I'm a big fan of profit that doesn't come from government contracts or market interference...I even kinda admire Exxon as a well-run company.

I think the neofuedalists you fear are just in it for the money...

A Top Ten War Profiteers list in the mass media would certainly shine a spotlight on some of these cockroaches...even George "slamdunk" Tenet is getting over $1 million a year now providing "private" intelligence to the government...they take care of their own.

Mark said...

Though it pains me to do it, I'm defend Monkyboy on the Faux news issue. Well, not Faux news itself, which is certainly a right wing outfit all the way openly promoting the Republican world view.

But taking it a step higher, Murdoch himself isn't so much conservative as really, really rich and wants to become even richer. (I know, at some level I'm defending DB here as well, stick with me a bit.)

The formula Murdoch discovered is tribalism sells. Look at Fox Sports. While most companies thought to go the ESPN approach towards cable sports, Murdoch realized you needed local stations that can promote the home team.

He owns news franchises in multiple countries, in each he promotes the local ideology that most openly pushes nationalism and tribal identification. Typically, this is the conservative approach, but in China he openly promotes the Communist state.

Now does Murdoch actually want to see greater and greater nationalism in the world; does he really want to push us towards a world war? I doubt it. But if that is the end result of his profiteering (to use the leftist term), then so be it.

Michael "Sotek" Ralston said...

I don't really see a dark conspiracy with Fox News ...

... but I do see some elements of "conspiracy", along with some simple elements of profit-seeking in a malfored system.

First of all ... it really is a matter of public record what organizations like PNAC do - all the right-wing thinktanks do work on ways to change society to something they want. And in and of itself, of course... there's nothing wrong with that. But some of the methods they use are dangerous, and I (and I suspect everyone else here) think at least some of their goals are even more so.

That's really no more a "conspiracy" than is. But it's rather more effective and in a stronger position at this time.

So there is a deliberate influence pushing news to the "right" every way it can.

But there's also the fact that one major news station pushing the "right-wing" viewpoint is good business - and would even of itself be good for the country, were there equivalent "left-wing" news stations. (there aren't. There really aren't. CNN and the like focus on classical journalistic views... which are also nice, but only work in total isolation.)

Of course ... it'd also be good business for there to be a news station that was the opposite of Fox News - one that deliberately aligned itself with the "left wing". I suspect the reason that one doesn't exist now is simply that the majority of the people in a position to push it don't see that there really are a lot of "left-wing" people out there.

After all ... how many people like monkeyboy (or even I) do you think Murdoch and others like him encounter?

jomama said...

You boys and girls look like you enjoy self-flagellation til you're all red, white and blue from the effort. Demicans, Republicrats, Libertoonians etc, etc ad nauseum, along with any other "solution" to the bankruptcy of the US is pissing in the wind.

Yes, it's official, this bankruptcy,
something a large number of my acquaintances have know for some time.

More power has also accrued to each succeeding Prez since Lincoln but it doesn't look like many have noticed this. Next Prez gonna be worse. All that has cost more. Moot point now.

What's next?

We can watch a lotta folks running around in circles trying to save the clown act in that circus called gummint.

Am I a cynic? If that's someone who thinks he knows what's going on, then yes, I am.

palliard said...

On the issue of Fox News, I've been resisting the temptation to link to this, but what the hell...

Don Quijote said...

Scripps Howard News Service - A third f U.S. public believes 9/11 conspiracy theory

More than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East, according to a new Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll.

The national survey of 1,010 adults also found that anger against the federal government is at record levels, with 54 percent saying they "personally are more angry" at the government than they used to be.

David Brin said...

If you add up all the people who believe in BOTH evolution and a 6,000 year old world... or any other trumped-up question, you will find the numbers always add up to way over 100%.

People respond to HOW poll questions are asked, many of the pollsters knowing this and intentionally aiming to get whatever answer seems most provocative or amusing.

Given that 1/2 of Americans not only disapprove of our present government, but hate its lying guts, it does not surprise me that a poll question could be parsed to get this answer.

But although I wallow in an occasiopnal conspiracy theory rant myself, you have also seen me savage those "Loose Change" maniacs. (Who are obviously GOP paid provocateurs, right?)

My own favorite conspiracy is not ENTIRELY detached from the one mentioned above. I certainly believe that we are led by people who do not stay up late worrying about the best interests of future generations of americans, or humanity on Earth, for that matter. I believe there are patterns that SUGGEST they may even be direct or indirect servants of an inimical foreign power. (No other explanation fits the facts so well.)

On the other hand, DIRECT plotting to cause 9/11 to happen? Any one operative with a grain of patriotism could bring such a monstrous act tumbling apart. They would not - could not - dare.


Again, I am amused by how certain of you assign normal profit motives to a blanant campaign toward the re-institution of an inherited aristocracy.

- the opening of our borders to floods of undocumented workers, while closing the gates to legal immigrants who must then be paid well.

- the relentless conniving to remove the inheritance tax, which only has to be paid if you refuse to create a foundation and instead want to create new Lords.

- creation of a culture of secrecy far exceeding anything seen during the Cold War, while abetting the expansion of overseas tax havens and cutting the number of IRS auditors many-fold, especially those dealing with the rich...

- twisting our economy to maximize the return from passive investments, rents, influence-peddling and cheating, as opposed to delivery of competitive goods and services...

Dang, this rant is sounding positively lefty! And yet (note the irony) it was spurred because some of our resident lefties want these machinations to be attributed to normal profit motive. Something that I, an admirer of markets and the First Liberal... Adam Smith ... refuse to accept! There are TONS of people earning great profits from goods and services. These are the rich who "get it."

And they are not the same at all.

Tony Fisk said...

Why go to war?

An interesting snippet I found in Robert Fisk's recent book 'The Great War For Civilisation'.

In 2002, when wondering why the bogeyman had suddenly morphed from Osama Bin Laden to Saddam Hussein, it was pointed out to him, from a pretty authorative source (can't remember the name offhand), that there was a remarkable correspondence between the focus shifting to Hussein, the increased war rhetoric* , ...and the breaking Enron scandal.

*The next time the US admin states they 'have no quarrel' with you, start worrying!

(BTW: can anyone out there provide some background behind Israel's current hissy-fit? Other than one pack of nerocons happily feeding another pack of nerocons enough rope)

Rob Perkins said...

You appear to know next to nothing about Adam Smith. Or hat he taught. Or why he should be the newest icon of liberalism (as he was, in fact, the very FIRST icon of liberalism).

Fair enough. I know next to nothing about Adam Smith. But I can't help commenting (and chuckling while I do it) that it's gonna seem like a "back to basics" reaction, rather a lot like Christian fundamentalism, at least on the very surface.

In other words: Heh, heh: Fundamentalist Liberals.

Mark said...

If you add up all the people who believe in BOTH evolution and a 6,000 year old world...

Funny fact: Young Earthers tried to figure out how all the animal species fit into a single arc and couldn't do it. Their answer? The Bible only says two of each type were aboard arc, not species. Put two bears, two canines, two cats, etc. on the arc and they fit. How do we get the diversity we see today? (Drum roll please....) Evolution! Of course. Really, check it out for yourself here

Again, I am amused by how certain of you assign normal profit motives to a blanant campaign toward the re-institution of an inherited aristocracy.

As a side note, one generation without the estate tax is bad, but not horrible. It takes multiple generations for the feedback loop to really set in and create the aristocracy. But at what point will Billionaires be able to purchase immortality? If the answer is within a hundred years as I think it very well might be, then we can toss old-style aristocracy out the window and look forward to a much tougher nut to crack.

(People laugh at me when I suggest that, but you guys may just be the crowd to take this issue seriously; at least a little.)

(Oh, and for the record, I'm actually pro-immortality, despite the potential problems.)

Rob Perkins said...

My single guess about Israel's current "hissy-fit" is that they believe nothing else will work.

monkyboy said...

Dr. Brin,

Rich people trying to avoid paying taxes has got to be one of the longest running "conspiricies" in history....I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

I think the only real worry is whether or not Bushie and his chums try to stage some kind of coup in the next two and a half years.

I don't think it's very likely and, seeing how incompetent they are, it might actually be highly entertaining...

Michael "Sotek" Ralston said...

Well ... see, I do assign those things to "normal profit motive"...

... it's just that I also assign them to "a broken part of the system".

In other words: Yes, I do think it's the classic selfish actions ... in a situation wherein the system is skewed such that those selfish actions harm the system as a whole.

I think there are ways the system could be changed to fix all of those problems, although I do have to admit I can't think of what they might be.

Doug S. said...

Again, I am amused by how certain of you assign normal profit motives to a blatant campaign toward the re-institution of an inherited aristocracy.

And why would they trying to get themselves in a position to act like an inherited aristocracy? So they and their chosen successors can keep getting more of all that money they've been after! I think what we have here is two people saying the same things in different ways and not realizing it.

Tangent said...

Actually, a coup would be very doable. What you do is detonate a nuclear bomb in Washington DC, killing the majority of the politicians there while President Bush "just so happened" to be out of the district.

Next, Bush declares a State of Emergency... his investigations reveal that a conspiracy to overthrow the government is behind it. So Bush starts a war on the U.S. People, going after the "undesireables" who are "trying to overthrow the lawful government" while getting the backing of the majority of Americans because "Nukes are Bad"

There will be an immediate response of Libertarian and Anarchists who see this type of action as illegal. The longer it runs, the more people on the fringes will join in. Thus you start a culture of Civil War within America and so long as there is a "state of emergency" Bush remains the President and can suspend elections and the like.

"Best" of all, the majority of the political elites that oppose Bush currently would be dead or severely injured from the atomic blast (or for that matter a biological bomb, though those could go out of control and end up wiping out much of America - ironically, nukes are safer), so there would be minimal political opposition.

Rob H., Tangents

Tangent said...

There may be a shift in how politics and politicians are brought about. It appears that grassroots efforts, internet bloggers, and activism is making a comeback, with the possibility of ousting Lieberman from Connecticut.

David Brin said...

Thanks for the link to:

I love these twists and pretzel contortions... those that FOX is doing now, to explain that a few corroded and useless chemical artillery shells constituted the "major program to develop new and devastating weapons of mass destruction" that Red (actually gray) America still delusionally believes that Saddam had in 2003.

Stefan Jones said...

This is totally unfair and uncalled for but I'm going to post it anyway:

Core support group losing faith in Bush.

monkyboy said...

The percentage of Americans that believe Saddam had WMD has actually increased 50% in the last few years.

Here's the core belief for the fringe right:

George W. Bush is a righteous president leading our noble troops in a justified war of survival against the Islamic Menace!

All politicians try to spin the news, but anything that challenges this core belief (Valerie Plame, Haditha massacre, no WMD, etc.) is countered by a long term, well financed and very effective disinformation campaign...

Tony Fisk said...

October surprises: I note Tangent's scenario of the neros using some engineered excuse to declare a state of emergency and suspend the constitution. (I suggested something a little less dramatic than nuking Washington: exposure of a planned military coup if the GOP retained power. But hey, these guys possess a flair for the dramatic!)

Apart from the bit about nukes, I agree with MonkeyBoy that any such attempt would be fun to watch... in retrospect!! (think of the Soviet Union in 1989)

Gilmoure said...

Lileks has an interesting view on the boredom of America with the Middle East. Is this true? Will apathy lead to anger?

palliard said...

Americans tend to be apathetic about a lot of things, but I think it's largely a result of expecting things to change, due to the sort of society we're living in... we expect things to be in a constant state of flux, and are always looking for something new to entertain us. When it doesn't, we just say "screw it" and find something else to get interested in.

The Middle East is one example:
[you]: There's trouble in the Middle East!
[American]: Oh, there's a surprise! I think I might have a heart attack and die from that surprise. Was there any sand involved?

If it didn't affect the price of gas your average American would care as much about the Middle East as he cares about Africa... which is another way of saying if it fell off the Earth he wouldn't notice much.

For my own part, I don't care about the Middle East because I'm convinced the future does not lie that way.